Where's the bad news, exactly?
Josh--remember it is small school districts around the state facing large numbers of immigrants that struggle to pass levies--not Seattle. And they suffer most with a failed levy.
And Annie is correct that the state abdicates its responsibility to fund schools. But they abdicate their responsibility to fund most things in this state and to provide us with a decent tax structure--so the point is rather useless. What does Annie suggest? We punish the kids to make a point?
We should make the Air Force hold a bake sale the next time they want to build a bomber.
In theory we shouldn't need local school levies for basic funding. The state should pay for that. However, that's obviously not the case, and schools need funding now, not in some magical happy future when the state government actually funds all the schools like it's supposed to. This is a good way to get that going while waiting for a lawsuit against the state (anyone?) to get the legislature back on track.
The outcome of the election definitely was favorable to Republicans, there's no spinning that fact away (and I'm definitely NOT a fan of the GOP). The question is instead "why did that happen?" I'd have to guess that their voters were more motivated than ours - the state party did little to mobilize its base and its GOTV operations for the tax proposals, whereas WA Republicans are always happy to show up to fight taxes.
There were no major races on the ballot - not the state legislature, not the King County Executive, not US federal offices. And the highest profile issue, Prop 1, saw Democratic voters split on the matter, with a majority backing it and a smaller but vocal minority opposing it.
To me the lesson is never, ever put anything important on a ballot that isn't happening in an even-numbered year. Well, that and the state Democrats need to get their act together. Being AWOL on an election is no longer a possibility.
I'm glad the tide is turning on this one. I don't think school levies do as well, even western wa, as people might think. I've voted for lots of levies in various jurisdictions which ended up failing despite going well into the 55-58% range. In this day and age where a 55 or 56% vote is seen as a 'trouncing', it makes no sense to hold school districts hostage to a 60% majority.
When I was growing up in Gig Harbor, I vividly remember several school levies failing (even while getting majorities) and the school getting noticeably worse as a result. The first thing to get cut was custodial service, so our classrooms got pretty gross pretty fast. I realize that this may not be a big problem "around here" (Seattle itself, I guess you mean?) but it matters a lot to a lot of kids around the state.
And certainly the state is abdicating its responsibility for school funding by forcing districts to rely on these levies, but the long-term solution to that is electing better Democrats (note that I'm not saying "more Democrats") to the leg. Meanwhile, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this one pulls it out in the end.
There seems to be a fundamental misconception here about the relationship between the levy pass threshold and the levy failure rate. Raising or lowering the levy pass threshold will not have much effect on the levy failure rate. That's because levy authors taylor the size of the levy to the amount they belive that whatever percentage of voters is required to pass it will be willing to pay. The levy failure rate (which is less than 10%) represents the fraction of the time that levy authors miscalculated. Lowering the levy pass threshold will increase the size of levies, but since it won't make levy authors any smarter, it won't decrease the levy failure rate.
@8 - That is the dumbest thing I've ever heard.
Sometimes you are a great writer, but sometimes your provincialism, in the form of clearly never leaving the city limits except for some "here's what they think/do in the sticks", is breathtaking.
"Itís not like school levies have much of a problem passing around here anyway."
Tell that to the parent in the Snoqualmie (Snoqualmie/North Bend) school district. The last TWO levies have failed. As a result they're totally unable to respond to the rapid growth that's happened out there.
Your lukewarm attitude toward this incredibly important measure is really disappointing.
"Shrug" - I hope you are kidding! '
Levy funds account for 16% of statewide education funding - 24% in Seattle. That's nearly ONE quarter of the Seattle School District operating budget. These are precious funds.
And - you are WRONG about levies 'always passing.' In 1996 there was a levy failure in Seattle where the levy received 58% of the vote. Last year Vadar SD had a double levy failure - and guess what? It closed. There have been 171 levy failures since 2000 - nearly all receiving over 50% of the vote.
So - do not shrug! These are precious funds - for a precious education system serving all of our kids.
OH - and yes, the levy problem is a small slice of the larger education funding problem in this state. In case you didn't notice, Olympia can't print money. Every little bit helps. When school advocates press forward on other solutions, I hope you will stand up and speak up rather than standing by and shrugging your shoulders at the problems facing our education and kids in this state.
I'm a huge supporter of public schools, vote yes on every proposal, and support getting rid of the supermajority requirement. BUT I don't think schools levees are a case of the state "abdicating it's responsibility" to education, at least when it's a capital levy.
I believe that a majority - a simple majority, but still a majority - should approve school funding, because I think a community should be invested in its schools.
Having a community say "yes, we need to build a new high school" means the people of the community have to take responsibility for that new school. If it were just up to someone in Olympia, it would be yet another case of people abdicating THEIR responsibility to their community, and then blaming Oly when things weren't they way they want them to be.
Even operational levees make sense, to a point, as it again makes the community take a part, and take responsibility, for their schools.
Call me naive, but that's the way it works back in Iowa, and if there's one thing you can say for Iowa, it's that they have good, well-funded public schools, with a lot of civic involvement. They also used to have ridiculously affordable public colleges and universities, but that might have changed by now.
I've never understood how supermajorities for ANYTHING can be constitutional. The whole thing with a supermajority is it hands over control of the agenda to the minority, which is a basic violation of the whole principle of one person-one vote.
If we're going to require a supermajority for anything, it ought to be ill-written, ill-conceived harebrained initiatives.
You seem like a reasonably smart guy, Josh, but your lack of understanding of public education issues (including school board politics) is pretty breath-taking.
the commenters here have it exactly right (except 8 - that I don't get).
I have a suggestion - how about spending the time between now and the next board elections (2009) going to board meetings, talking to people at League of Education Voters, and paying attention to public education issues in Seattle, so you can give some informed commentary and recommendations in that election? That would be great.
In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 45 days old).